As we head into the Round of 12 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, the points standings read, Joe Gibbs Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske, Stewart-Haas Racing as the top five drivers. Not shocking. Combined, these organizations have won 23 of the 29 races run in 2019 including eight of the last 10.
But, what if I told you that this could be a struggling round for a lot of the top drivers in those standings?
Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota towed back to the garage after blowing an engine in the Brickyard 400 – IMS Media Site
Kyle Busch may be the current points leader at +41 over the bubble, but he hasn’t won a race since June 2. Busch, also has scored just four top five finishes in his last 12 starts on the season. Dover has been good to him in the fall (3 top 2’s in his last 4 starts) but the Monster Mile is capable of biting him too with four finishes of 30th or worse in his last six spring races there. His best result in the spring is 10th. Then, it’s to Talladega, a place that’s a crapshoot. From there, it’s to Kansas, a place Busch finished 30th at back in May. With three finishes of 19th or worse in his last four, this could be a worrisome round for the JGR driver.
Same for his championship eligible teammates.
Martin Truex Jr. won at Dover back in the spring and does have five top four finishes in his last six starts there, but he also was 15th in last year’s playoff race. Again, Talladega is next, a place Truex has always struggled. Finally, it’s to Kansas where Truex came home 19th back in the spring. He, like Busch, needs to get a great start this weekend at Dover.
Denny Hamlin has just two top five finishes since the Fall of 2010 at Dover. He’s a good superspeedway racer but you can’t bank of a good finish at Talladega though. Anything can happen there. Then, it’s to Kansas where Hamlin was 16th back in May and 14th in last year’s playoff race. Hamlin, had a stretch of six consecutive top five finishes late in the summer, he’s had three finishes of 15th or worse in his last five since.
All three of them could struggle this round and have to bank of playoff points to get them by.
What about Joey Logano?
He hasn’t won since June 10. He has just two top five finishes at Dover since 2014. He was seventh on the Monster Mile back in May. Talladega could be a good place for him if he’s lucky. Then, it’s to Kansas to close the round where he finished 15th back in May and has three finishes of 15th or worse in his last five starts there.
The top four may not be the top four in three weeks.